Undoubtedly, Cusco is home to the most impressive archeological sites in Peru, where the Inca civilization stands out for their impressive engineering knowledge and Sacsayhuaman certainly is one of the perfect examples. The ceremonial fortress is as intriguing as astonishing, its huge stone walls make it look as a shelter for giants, driving our imagination to the craziest mythological stories.
However, you’d be impressed to know that the Sacsayhuaman ruins were entirely built by the Incas, making it an unmissable attraction of the Cusco region. Likewise, the architecture, perfect carving, and engineering work will leave you breathless.
According to famous historians, the archeological site had a great importance for the Inca culture. Nonetheless, its purpose is still unknown though many theories have come to the surface thanks to studies that now help us understand more about this ancient structure.
Just like the mysterious Nazca lines, Cusco also has riddles yet to be solved, and Sacsayhuaman doesn’t stand too far from these enigmas. Even the craziest stories have captivated its visitors, and here we’ll uncover each one of them.
Sacsayhuaman was built between the XV and XVI centuries, Pachacutec started it and Huayna Capac finished it. Apparently, it took over 50 years and 20,000 men to complete this massive structure.
Unfortunately, due to the Spanish conquest, the information of this Inca site is limited. However, thanks to historians and archeologists that dedicated their work to the understanding of these Inca remains, now we can assume a few things about the place.
Sacsayhuaman was built as a ceremonial center, it consists of several temples dedicated to the cult of the water, the sun, the moon, and other deities of the Inca culture. However, this was not its only purpose since weapons and food storages were found within its structures, confirming that this site was also used as a military center.
Some archeologists point out that the Inca Empire used these facilities to train warriors but this was never confirmed. Sacsayhuaman served as a great control center due to its strategic position and high elevation. It also played an important role during the colonization process by protecting the city of Cusco from the Spanish invaders.
Nowadays, the Sacsayhuaman Archeological Site is the stage for the famous Inti Raymi celebration during the winter solstice. A ceremony that honors the Sun God since Inca times. The recognized festival gathers hundreds of local and foreign tourists looking to experience the ancient tradition left behind by this civilization.
The structure of this archeological site has the distinctive style of Inca engineering, but clearly on a larger scale. Currently, only 40% of Sacsayhuaman remains untouched since when the Spaniards finally gained control over the so-called Imperial City, they dismantled the complex and took a great part of the rocks to build the Colonial Cusco.
Although only the foundations of some structures and huge heavy rocks have remained, the magnificence of the site couldn’t be overshadowed. Sacsayhuaman is a great monument with rocks that weigh over 120 tons, each stone carefully carved and polished. All of them were dragged to the location from a nearby quarry by hundreds of men using ropes.
The most impressive part of this Inca fortress is how they manage to perfectly fit the rocks one on top of the other without using any type of mortar. The largest stone reaches 5 meters of elevation and it’s 2,5 meters wide.
Sacsayhuaman was suitably constructed to resemble the head of a cougar, an important figure of the Andean Cosmovision. Likewise, this represented the Inca ideology of wanting to conquer their lands from above. The structure was thoughtfully designed to merge itself with its surroundings, portraying the authentic landscaping knowledge of this ancient civilization.
The archeological complex covers an extension of 3,000 ha. and it is divided into several sections: the remaining foundations of three important towers, the throne of the Inca, bastions, temples, and more.
Since there’s no actual information about the site, except from the deductions made by the archeologists that studied this structure, different theories have emerged. Some of them are quite accurate, whilst others go to a more imaginative path.
1. Extraterrestrial Beings. This is definitely one of the theories that have captured everyone’s attention. Some people have theorized that the Incas were helped by aliens who gave them the tools to assemble this extraordinary megalithic structure.
2. Others say that the rocks were cut and moved but later fused due to the heat of an intense forest fire. Investigators have tried this with several tests but the results ruled out this probability.
3. Another theory points to the use of lenses and mirrors to fuse the stones together. But, it is known that the Incas didn’t possess this type of technology, which makes it very unlikely.
However, the most accurate theory says that the famous culture engineered a system called “Scribing” or “Template Making,” which consisted of measuring the spaces between the stones, creating a wooden template of the shape to achieve a perfect fit.
As much as we’d love to believe in life in outer space and the possible cosmic contact between the Incas and advanced extraterrestrial civilizations, this last theory seems to resolve a 600-year enigma, though it hasn’t been entirely confirmed.
Sacsayhuaman is located only 2 kilometers away from Cusco at 3,700 meters above sea level. It is easily accessible by walk or car since it is near Plaza de Armas. However, if you wish to visit this historical monument, we highly recommend taking a guided tour.
The famous Ceremonial Fortress comprehends many mysteries and details that you certainly can’t miss. For that reason, if you go on your own, you won’t be able to fully appreciate the history of the place.
Luckily for you, we have a special Archeological City Tour, where you’ll get to visit all these attractions and more! Our guided tour starts with a short walk through the historic center, later we board a shuttle that will take us to the famous Sacsayhuaman Fortress, following Q’enqo, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay.
- Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday from 07:00h to 18:00h.
- Entrance: The Touristic Ticket is needed to enter the archeological site, it includes all the sights within the Cusco City Tour. (Already included in all our packages).
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